Entertainment Weekly Awards King’s Gambit an A-

King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game was published today. It’s a strange feelingjoy that this long project of mine is now complete. Hope that the book will find its way onto the reading lists of nonplayers who want to understand how this seemingly arcane game brings out strong emotions (and, sometimes, crazy behavior) in both professional players and amateurs alike. Hope that my father-son story of deception and betrayal may resonate with other people.

I have now posted the beginning of the book on my Web site.

I am cheered by the review of King’s Gambit in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly. The magazine gave my book an A-: “The first chapter of Hoffman’s chess-obsessed book includes the phrase ‘an early light-squared bishop sortie by White.’ If these words send you running for the relative simplicity of a Parcheesi board, fear not. Hoffman, the former editor-in-chief of Discover, weaves a layman-friendly work about family (specifically his father, a chess-playing pathological liar) and the neurotic personalities who are consumed by bishops, rooks, and Sicilian openings. Whether pondering why top female players are so scarce or detailing his tense journey to a Libyan tournament (where he is suspected of being a CIA agent). Hoffman traps readers from his opening moves.”

6 Responses to “Entertainment Weekly Awards King’s Gambit an A-”

  1. Never Underestimate the Power of a Sleeping Knight « thepHtest Says:

    […] A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game. « A Whale of an Index Entertainment Weekly Awards King’s Gambit an A- […]

  2. Tom Panelas Says:


    I’m up the part about the Lautier-Vaganian game and the carousing through Moscow afterwards. Gripping stuff; I’m just glad you survived to write it. We won’t even talk about Libya.

    You probably know about this.


  3. paulhoffman Says:


    I wish I had known you were such a big chess fan when we worked together! And thanks for calling attention to the chesstales story. I actually didn’t know that it had been posted.


  4. Tom Panelas Says:


    I wasn’t into chess back then. I started about four years ago, when my son, who was then in the first grade, showed an interest in the game. I barely knew how the pieces moved, but I got Chess for Dummies (which I recommend highly for adult beginners, BTW) so I could teach him the game.

    Then we met some like-minded parents and kids at his school, one thing led to another, and before you know it we’d started a chess club there, which, if we do say so ourselves, is now one of the most successful in the Chicago public schools.

    I started much too late in life to ever be any good at the game,* but I enjoy trying, and if nothing else have developed an appreciation for the artistry of chess.


    * On the other hand, if Dan Heisman really can raise Howard Stern’s rating 600 points in a year, maybe there’d hope for me yet.

  5. bioniclime Says:

    Paul, I’ve read the first two chapters of the book. Really well-done, congrats. I’m also the writer for the NJ Knockouts, so thanks for the credit on the Hess board article. 🙂

  6. Derek Slater Says:

    Paul – congratulations.

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